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What does it mean to be a “Social Media Guru”?

If there’s one thing we don’t have a shortage of when it comes to social media, it would be gurus. Or experts, masterminds, blah, blah, blah. After doing a quick Google search, I found there were 15,740 self-proclaimed social media gurus in 2009. Yikes. How many are there today?

Here’s the thing I just can’t wrap my mind around: What does it even mean to be a “social media guru”? 

Sure, someone might have a knack for using social media as a tool in their marketing tool belt. Maybe they have experience running campaigns on social channels for clients. Ok, so you’ve done it before. Not all clients are the same, though, so I’m still not convinced your experience makes you a guru.

Now that the communication novelty has worn off (“oh wow, our customers can complain/talk to our brand directly!”), what about social media is so profound that people feel the need to call themselves gurus to establish their credibility? 

Last time I checked, social media was about people being social. Isn’t that just an inherent part of human nature? Same goes for gamification via social channels. What is mind blowing about people enjoying competition and rewards for their behaviors? Nothing. Yes, there is definitely a way to use these principles to benefit your brand. I fully believe that. But I don’t believe that I needed a self-proclaimed social media guru to tell me that. 

There’s definitely not a science to this. We’re not accountants here. 

So we’re back at my original question. To be a “social media guru” means what, exactly?

I looked up “guru” on Merriam-Webster. There are a few definitions, but to give the gurus the benefit of the doubt let’s go with “a person with knowledge or expertise.”

Ok, sure, that makes sense. But then wouldn’t a 14-year-old be more of a social media guru than any of us? I’m a digital native, but it’s nothing like the younger generation today. I was still part of the age where dial-up Internet and AIM were the coolest things ever. 

The point is that “knowledge or expertise” in something like social media could apply to heavy social media users. So how can anyone call themselves a guru in something that anyone can use and master? 

What puts you at “guru status”?  

What makes you the right person for me to hire to help run social media for my brand? 

I like how this Snarketing 2.0 blog post describes it: “Social media does not make you a good marketer. Good marketers figure out to effectively use social media.”

That’s a great point. Social media is another part of the marketing mix. So yes, there’s a way to take advantage of it…as part of a larger strategy. Yes, it has value. But before choking on the Kool-Aid, stop and think about what that value is for your brand.

The bigger issue is that, with all of this self-proclaiming going on, how can you separate the credible people with the ones who are full of it?

How do you find the right marketer to run your brand’s social media strategy? 

I’m not sure if there’s a good answer to that question, but I’m certainly curious about it.

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